Westward Independent

What will it take?

by Westward Independent
1 comment

North Cowichan has quite the plan for our future mobility.


Have you ever heard the phrase “Active Transportation”? This phrase refers to modes such as walking, rolling, and scootering. Words you will see often in many plans, federally, provincially, and locally. For example, in October 2021 the Government of B.C. released the Clean BC Roadmap: “Actions supporting mode-shift toward active transportation and public transit.”
The North Cowichan Transportation Plan is currently in the works and is meant to guide the transportation infrastructure for the next 30 years. The Plan (Master Transportation Plan Phase 2) was on their website during public surveys but has since been removed, the Phase 2 plan is available on www.coap.ca however.

North Cowichan hired WATT consulting out of Calgary AB. to create a transportation plan for our area. They worked with Modus out of Vancouver which designed our Official Community Plan (OCP) that was put to the council. Between the updated Climate Action Energy Plan and the Transportation plan, North Cowichan has some big changes to your mobility and lifestyle in the works.

Let’s break down some of the changes and put feelers out as to whether you could maintain your current lifestyle, or prosper within these new ‘tweaks’ to how we currently get around this lovely Valley of ours!

North Cowichan proposes that we switch to 35% “active transportation” by 2050, “especially in the winter months” by “creating a behaviour shift”. If we project the population growth according to the OCP that would be 13,814 people who only walk, scooter, or ‘roll’. Currently, 1% of people use bikes for trips, 7% walk, 4% use transit, and 18% use their car with more than one passenger, according to a survey in the proposed Transportation Plan. Additionally, 25% of people who are to ride transit by 2050 are set to be fully electrified by 2030, and those who still drive will be driving electric vehicles.

These plans are based around the majority of citizens living within “Growth Centres”, a term used by North Cowichan to specify areas slotted for aggressive development, and “villages within growth containment boundaries” by the CVRD. We have witnessed a proposed building application be denied because, as Councillor Justice stated it was not within a 15-minute walk from amenities. We have also heard Mayor Douglas speak about “walkable” towns, so we know this global shift to 15-minute cities is alive with North Cowichan and the CVRD (Cowichan Valley Regional District).

The thought is almost romantic when you picture little European Towns, especially the ones long gone, like in Dickens’ Christmas Carol, where you stroll down the street picking up from your local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. Who wouldn’t want that, some people may have moved here for that small-town feel in the first place, but is this a reality for the folks of North Cowichan? “Especially in the winter” as they state.

If, in reality, you could depend fully on resources within your “walkable communities”, this may fit many people’s needs, but there are some pretty large challenges to this whole idyllic plan. The Transportation plans, OCP, and Climate Action & Energy Plan (CAEP) indicate that you would not have to leave the areas as all your needs would be met within a 15-minute walk This is far from the case as 80% of people commute for work currently, and most jobs within these Growth Centres are minimum wage. Many people shop around for the best deals on food. Many people enjoy other restaurants than what is in their 15-minute walk. As for vehicle usage, many families shop for the week, sometimes as far as Costco for groceries. Many elderly can not walk 15 minutes to get groceries and then carry them back 15 min.

The transportation plan has broken down the proposed vehicle usage for each growth centre by 2050. For instance, in the Berkey’s Corner area, only 35% of people would own and use a vehicle.

The Transportation Plan, also indicates that travel between these hubs could be facilitated by BC Transit or Ride-Share options. Where do the parents who drive their kids to Hockey, Dance, Soccer, etc. fit into this restrictive mobility plan? What about all the men and women who drive fleet vehicles to work up and down the island?

But this is all just a grandiose plan that could never be implemented if you did not agree right? Who could make you ditch your F150 and walk in the winter to pick up groceries? Well, our municipalities have many plans like this based on declaring a climate emergency in 2019, and much of the grant money they depend on is reliant on meeting certain emission targets by 2030 and 2050, so they are very motivated to have these plans come to fruition.

These plans are in alignment with their zero-carbon, and emission goals. But how do they measure our emissions? According to one North Cowichan staffer, they use records from fuel sales, natural gas sales, and BC Hydro (How they tell the difference between a tourist or someone travelling through Duncan filling up and residents fueling up is a mystery). And are these calculations made with alternative calculations in mind?

According to an article in the Business Insider:
“The conclusion Richard B. Mckenzie, a professor of Economics at the Paul Merage School of Business comes to in his blog post on EconLib. Because of the way food supply chains work, walking a mile — and consequently expending calories that need to be replaced — might be more wasteful and polluting than driving a mile. He takes the example of a 180-pound man who chooses to walk a mile to work instead of driving. Walking a mile will burn 200 calories more than the 2000 calories he burns just to survive. Producing food worth 200 calories takes up to 3000-4000 calories. So a person who drives a high fuel economy car that burns 40 miles per gallon will be using only half to two-thirds of the energy that the walker uses in replacing the calories he expended on walks. The heavier you get, the less efficient walking is, as a heavier person would burn more calories from walking a mile. So walking can be 1.5 to 2 times more polluting than driving a high mileage car.” An interesting twist to the emissions model.

How would they implement these transportation plans? Between the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments there will be a multi-pronged attack on vehicle usage.

Following the direction of the Pan-Canadian Framework, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (2018) established a Canadian benchmark carbon price that began at $20/tCO2 e in 2019, rising to $50/tCO2 e in 2022. The tax will then increase by $15/tCO2 e every year until it reaches $170/ tCO2 e in 2030.

The federal carbon pollution pricing system has two parts:
A trading system for large industries, known as the output-based pricing system; and a regulatory charge on fuel (fuel charge). Provinces and Territories can implement their carbon pricing that meets or exceeds this national benchmark.
ZERO EMISSIONS VEHICLES 2019’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program is supporting the transition to zero-emissions vehicles by helping to address the required investments and upgrades to the EV charging network. The program targets public, on-street, workplace, multi-unit residential buildings, and commercial and public fleet charging infrastructure improvements. As of June 2021, the federal government has established a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger truck sales to be zero-emission by 2035. (pg 13 CAEP North Cowichan)

Pg 26 CAEP: “Low-carbon transportation. Vehicle electrification, increasing and improving public transit services, and making more trips by walking, cycling, and other means of active transportation can eliminate most transportation emissions.”
Locally they will install “traffic calming” lanes, narrow road widths, reduce speed limits, and more, to “frustrate” drivers and commuters. This is designed to make vehicle travel less desirable while promoting active transportation. They can install the emission detection attachments to the new LED streetlights. (Read WWIND June edition for article). They can block roads to create walk-only areas that expand outward and so many more things we see being rolled out globally. They also state the priority in funding should be put towards ‘active transportation’ over road congestion issues.

“When the 2050 land use was modelled with the mode share targets, the volume of traffic on the road network in 2050 will be similar (or slightly less) than the volume of traffic today during the peak hour. Therefore, by shifting the focus to promoting and prioritizing active transportation, less funding will be needed to mitigate the vehicle network operations.” (pg 32 MTP)
“The transportation network needs to be viewed through a new lens where walking, rolling, cycling, and transit users are considered the higher priority.” . “… It also means that any congestion in the network that results in added delays to vehicles does not force the District to prioritize investments in additional vehicle infrastructure but rather find a more balanced approach to accommodate other modes. Having a more balanced approach will allow for reallocation of some of the road/vehicle funding to sustainable modes” (pg 21 MTP)

“Several areas within North Cowichan are mainly (or solely) residential such as the Lakes Road, Quamichan / Maple Bay sub-area. This increases the need for residents to travel longer distances for employment and amenities (many of the grocery stores, medical offices, and recreational destinations are located on the west side of Highway 1). Adding more commercial (retail/office) east of Highway 1 and within 5 km of the single-family (city lot) neighbourhoods also supports the ability to shift traffic patterns and behaviours to active modes.” (pg 37 MTP)

“Shoulders, which are provided for rural/urban arterials and rural collectors, are intended to be narrow to provide some space for recovery (stalled vehicle). The need for wide shoulders to accommodate broken-down vehicles is not necessary as tow truck services are easily obtained in North Cowichan. Shoulder widths are rarely used with a separated pathway and therefore would only add additional width and encourage
higher speeds.” (pg 42 MTP)

When looking at these same plans globally, there are many cities and countries steps ahead of us where we see more drastic and invasive measures being taken. There are too many to list but we will take one example from London, and their ULEZ, the Ultra Low Emission Zones.

If you plan to enter these zones, your vehicle must meet certain emissions standards, or you will be charged 12.50 pounds to enter this zone which is now expanding to a much larger area Sept 2023. Additionally, if you drive within this zone between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., you have to pay a congestion fee of 15 pounds, regardless of your vehicle emissions.

If you do not pay these fees there is a 180 pound penalty. These charges apply to motorcycles, mopeds, and more as they encourage walking and cycling on their government website.

So while North Cowichan looks at shifting funding from road infrastructure for cars, and moves priorities to biking, walking, active transportation, and public transit, one can only ask, are we putting the cart before the horse? Can our power grid sustain this shift, and does BC Transit have a plan to create a functioning network within our community?

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1 comment

Daisy Lynne September 10, 2023 - 3:06 am

Climate Change is a HOAX

You are supporting WEF tecnocratic policies that strives to depopulate the planet based on lies, deceit and inflated egos from those who have a God complex.
Take your ideas and your evil BS elsewhere.
Stay away from the Alberni Valley Assholes! You have no idea who you are dealing with here.
You will not have an easy time if you come near us rednecks.
AV demographic is not WOKE – so WAKE UP and move on to some other useless libtard community.


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